For Immediate Release
Marion County Man Convicted of Federal Firearm Offense
Ocala, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that a federal jury today found Reginald Howard, Jr. (36, Ocala) guilty of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, up to life, in federal prison. His sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. Howard was indicted on January 7, 2015.
According to the testimony and evidence presented at trial, Ocala Police Department officers were called to a disturbance at a store on November 28, 2014. Officers were told that a man was in the bathroom with a gun. Officers confronted Howard and a subsequent search revealed a loaded, 9mm handgun inside his left rear pocket. Howard stated that he had the firearm for protection. Witnesses reported that Howard had threatened them while displaying the pistol.
Prior to the incident, Howard had been convicted for the sale of cocaine and felony fleeing and eluding law enforcement. As such, he qualifies for an enhanced sentence as an armed career criminal under federal law. At the time of the offense, Howard was under federal supervision.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Ocala Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Bryon R. Aven and Robert Bodnar.
This is another case prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” Program - a nationwide, gun-violence reduction strategy. United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, along with Regina Lombardo, Special Agent in Charge, ATF, is coordinating the Project Safe Neighborhoods effort here in the Middle District of Florida in cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials. It is also a part of ATF’s Frontline strategy to reduce violent crime in communities.